Austin, Texas is a popular place to be a travel nurse! Known as the “the live music capitol of the world’, the Colorado River runs right through the city providing constantly pretty views, and lot of options for urban outdoor activities. Austin has year-round nice weather, beautiful parks, live music everywhere (most likely accompanied by a local food truck), and some of the most delicious BBQ food on the planet. There are some major healthcare systems here and they love their travel nurses! Many nurses move here and stay long past their initial contract end date.
Where to Live- Best Neighborhoods
Travis Heights: Austin is all about keeping it weird, and Travis Heights sets the ‘weird’ bar high. The neighborhood is unique and without pretenses. You can find live music almost any night of the week. Rent prices are rising but haven’t skyrocketed as high as some other Austin areas.
South Lamar: This neighborhood is popular for its proximity to Barton Hot Springs, vibey shops, markets, and galleries, and low key foodie spots. South Lamar sits on the outskirts of Zilker (one of Austin’s most desirable and most expensive neighborhoods) but has much more reasonably priced rentals. Just northwest of South Lamar is Barton Hills- another beautiful and affordable neighborhood, just a bit more outside of central Austin.
Downtown: There are pros and cons to living in the heart of Austin. Downtown rentals will have you close to it all, but parking and rent may be expensive. Downtown residents are friendly and love to get out and connect! Explore the cocktail lounges, food trucks, and beer gardens to experience it all!
Hyde Park: The history of Hyde Park is almost as appealing as the rental costs. Beautiful buildings surrounded by cafes and coffee shops line the streets of this area. There is a strong sense of community and the residents pride themselves on being representatives of Austin’s culture. Stop by Hyde Park Bar and Grill– serving patrons since the 1920s!
South Congress: This area is a local favorite. People love the vintage boutiques, live music venues, mouth-watering food options, and local galleries. The neighborhood has a grass roots feel and residents love living here. If you stand at the top of the street you will have a great view of the Texas Capitol.
South Manchaca: This area is located next to South Lamar and has similar low rental prices. South Manchaca has easy access to downtown, and is populated by working-class people. The area is walk-able and close to shops and food.
Cost of Living in Austin
The cost of living in Austin is relatively reasonably compared with other popular travel nursing cities. Average rent for a decent one bedroom will cost you $1000-$1200. Two bedrooms average around $1500 per month. Downtown and Central Austin remain the most expensive areas to live. The further you live from the center, the easier parking and using a car will be. Travel nurses will find more square footage for less money in places like South Lamar, Travis Heights, and South Congress.
Apartments and single-family homes can be rented and usually have sufficient space. A lot of residents have pets, but expect to still have to pay a deposit for your furry friend.
Travel Nursing Hospitals in Austin
Austin is home to some major healthcare systems and central Texas’ only level 1 trauma center. Travel and agency nurses are frequently used to help supplement the need and take care of the area’s growing population.
Ascension: Ascension healthcare has locations in over 20 states. The major facilities in Austin that employ travel nurses are Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, Dell Children’s, and Ascension Seton Southwest. Those are acute care facilities, but the system includes surgical and rehabilitation centers. They also have facilities located in outlying areas of Austin. The Seton Medical Center Austin is the only hospital that does heart transplants in the area, and Dell Seton Medical Center is the only level I trauma center in central Texas
St. David’s HealthCare: Heart Hospital of Austin, St. David’s Medical Center, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, St. David’s Children’s Hospital, and St. David’s Women Center of Texas are all part of this massive healthcare network that is well known to Austin travel nurses.
Both of these systems are accommodating of travel nurses and work with a lot of agency nurses!
Travel Nurse Pay Rates in Austin
Jobs posted on NurseFly have pay rates ranging between $1049 and $2520 per week. Med Surg/Tele and ICU nurses will see a gross income starting at $1200 per week, and up to $1600 per week. CVOR and OR nurses are in high demand and have the best paying travel nurse positions in Austin, up to $2600 per week! Labor and Delivery RN pay is $1600-$1800 per week.
In Town Attractions
Zilker Park– Over 350 acres of green space on the Colorado River and located right in the middle of Austin. The park also contains Barton Springs– the perfect place for a refreshing dip on a hot day. Barton Springs Pool is a fresh water spring fed pool that residents and tourists love to take a dip in. The pool is closed Thursdays from 9am-7pm for a deep cleaning to keep the conditions sanitary.
Zilker Park is also close to Lady Bird Lake– a small river- like reservoir on the Colorado River. The lake is a favorite spot for kayaking and canoeing. It is illegal to swim at Lady Bird Lake for safety reasons.
Food Truck Parks– Austin is renowned for its amazing food trucks. There are ‘parks’ located around the city where the trucks are parked and have seating areas for folks to come and hang out. A few of the favorite parks are The Picnic, 5000 Burnet, and Thicket Food Park. The trucks are often used as testers for possible new restaurant or cuisine ideas, and some even develop into full brick and mortar building. New trucks and parks are popping up all the time, so check the web before you head out on your food adventure!
South Congress Street (SoCo)– This street is full of vibrant people, trendy boutiques, unique lodging options, live music, and delicious restaurants. The area is located just south of Ladybird Lake and is a local favorite. Every night during the summer, people gather at the South Congress Street Bridge to watch the the world’s largest urban bat colony take flight.
Hope Outdoor Gallery– This community street art gallery is a huge attraction for tourists, and gathering place for locals. Originally located on Baylor Street, the gallery will be moving in 2020 to a location near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The old gallery was set up as terraces with walls of art that guests were free to alter at any point in time (mostly spray painted). The new gallery will be a larger outdoor space with a full service open air arts and event center geared towards cultural experiences and art production.
Bonus: South by Southwest– Every March Austin becomes a interactive festival for media, music, tech, and film. This event grows every year and people rave about the live music experience. Fans, music professionals, film producers, and artists are brought together to celebrate and debut new works. Performances take place in bars, hotels, cafes, churches, parks, and clubs around downtown Austin.
Food trucks– I already talked about the amazing food truck parks and tasty treats they serve. Seriously, Austin has it all- cheese trucks, sandwiches, any and all cultural foods, sweet treats, ice creams, cupcakes- you name it- there is a food truck in Austin that has it. Get out there and treat yo’ self!
BBQ– Austin is famous for its BBQ food and it’s impossible to pick one spot to recommend. Franklin’s BBQ is probably the most well known (mostly for its extremely long lines and mouth-watering brisket). Austin takes great pride in perfecting their BBQ so don’t miss out!
Tex Mex/Tacos– Tex Mex and Tacos are right up there with BBQ food in Austin. Tex Mex means dishes like enchiladas and fajitas, smothered with cheese and savory spices. Taquerias and Tex Mex places are scattered throughout Austin, but to really stuff your face and fill up check out Casa Chapala. Their lunch buffet is epic and their happy hours (all day Monday/Tuesday and 3-7 on Wednesday/Thursday) are competitively priced with a huge tequila selection!
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co– Located in a warehouse like building with a chill beer garden, this brewery serves up flavorful micro brews and gastropub fare. The pizza is delicious, the vibe is cool, you can bring your dog, and the beer is cold. Gather up all your travel nurse friends and spend a chill Saturday afternoon at the garden.
Whip in Convenience Store and Pub– This building may look like a small grocery store, but inside you will find a huge beer and wine selection, sandwiches, and a ‘from-scratch’ kitchen. They still carry a great selection of groceries, but they are more known for the awesome food they serve to their patrons.
Radio, Coffee, & Beer– Voted best coffee shop in Austin for the last 4 years and for good reason. The rich aromas of freshly brewed coffee lures people here, but inside you will find great food and a nice beer selection. They have a perfect patio for hanging out, and there is live music more often than not.
Bars and Nightlife
Austin’s ‘scene’ is divided up among the neighborhoods. It’s almost impossible to pick favorites due to the impossible amount of existing bars, breweries, and lounges!
Sixth Street– Sixth Street, aka ‘dirty sixth’, is THE party street in Austin. The area has been known for its bars and music since the 1800s when it was Pecan St (Custer and his cronies hung out here after the Civil War). There are bars clustered up and down the street, as well as some of the side streets. Check out the Midnight Cowboy Speakeasy, Plush, Barbarella, Elysium, and Flamingo Cantina for a genuine 6th Street experience.
Rainey Street– This street is usually packed with people, day or night. The street is lined with craftsman style bungalows, some of which are actually bars. Revelers are always looking to party and the vibe is always chill. Tourists and locals hang out here. Stop by Lucille, Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden, or Craft Pride for an authentic Rainey Street experience.
Day Trips and Exploring
Both of these swimming holes are located within an hour of Austin. Reservations are required for Hamilton Pool March 1-October 31 (to avoid overcrowding and sanitation issues). The trail to Hamilton Pool is 0.25 miles and relatively steep, but the cold teal water of the pool is worth the short hike. Make sure to bring $15 cash for parking when you go. Jacob’s Well is open year round, but you can only swim May 1- October 1. The fee is $9 for adults. The pool is an artesian well connected to a series of underwater caves. DO NOT TRY TO SWIM THE CAVES- People die every year attempting to swim deep and explore the caves. Only extremely experienced SCUBA divers should take that chance. It is known as one of the most dangerous diving spots in the country.
Fredericksburg– This charming town is known for its German heritage and wine country. It is about 1.5 hours from Austin and is worth at least a day trip. It is the ONLY wine country in Texas and deserves all the glory it gets. It’s also a great place to peep some wildflowers during the Spring!
San Antonio– Less than 2 hours from Austin, San Antonio provides a great opportunity to explore another central Texan city. Known for the Alamo, and appreciated for the River Walk, San Antonio is a small, but super fun city. Its history and culture are a great reason to visit, or just wander the River Walk and bar hop.
Jester King Brewery– Only 30 minutes outside of central Austin, this cool venue offers beers, tours, and fabulous food. Their huge outdoor space will make you feel like your’re part of a block party.
Cap Metro is the name of the public transportation agency in Austin. The system provides transport via express, rapid, and standard Metro buses, as well as a Metro Rail system. The buses cover almost all of the greater metro area, while the rail starts in Central Austin and ends in the northwest part of town.
Residents have complained that the infrastructure of the roads is not keeping up with the rapid number of people moving to Austin. Many people still drive into the center of town from the more suburban areas, and this can cause a fair amount of traffic for Austin.
You virtually don’t need to drive anywhere if you are living downtown. Outer areas can get into the center via public transportation easily. Travel nurses may want to bring their cars to explore the beautiful hill country surrounding Austin!
Weather and Best Time to Take a Travel Nurse Job in Austin
Weather in Austin is nice year round. The summers can get a little fiery, with temps in the mid to upper 90s (just go swimming at Barton Springs!). Austin does not get a lot of rain and is generally a dry climate. If you don’t like very hot weather, I would recommend avoiding June-September in Austin.
Travel nurses are needed year-round in Austin. The city has a rapidly expanding population and is struggling to keep up with their staffing needs as systems grow. A lot of travel nurses stay in Austin because of all the perks.